From Lightnings to Migs

...a Cold War Pilot's Operations, Test Flying & an Airspeed Record, from Air World

Title: From Lightnings to Migs
Author: Russell Peart AFC WKhM
Publisher: Air World
ISBN: 978-1-39900-747-0

This new book describes the author's career as a pilot, including both his RAF service and later, flying commercial airliners, accumulating an impressive and varied list of types which he has flown in an equal mix of situations. A 277-page hardback from Air World, one of the divisions of Pen & Sword.
Over 19 chapters, Squadron Leader Russell Peart follows a straight forward chronological sequence. It starts at his desire to fly and application to the RAF. Despite an offer of immediate entry for the role of Navigator, he chose to wait another year for acceptance. A decision that led to an incredible journey. His training included learning to fly on the piston engined Chipmunk, and on through the path of Jet Provost, Gnat and Hunter. That led him to serve with the famous 74 squadron, flying one of the most famous RAF Cold War jets, the Lightning, based in Singapore. When the aircraft were withdrawn he went on to do an attachment in Dhofar, where he was flying the Strikemaster, in combat missions that included ground attack and weapons delivery in support of ground troops which included the SAS. His time there also sees him flying a variety of other aircraft types. After that, on return to the UK, he flew the Jaguar, and as well as display flying, he also managed to set a new speed record. Yet more variety followed, as he successfully transferred to becoming a Test Pilot at the Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS). He describes some of the interesting work they did, including the chance to fly a captured enemy aircraft, an Argentine Pucara, captured in the Falklands. The challenge when there is a new type and no manual, it was a challenge to the learning process. Next came an attachment to the new Bangladesh Air Force, where he had the chance to fly the Shenyang F-6, a Chinese built version of the Soviet Mig-19, as well as the Soviet built Mig-21. There came a time when his contract with the RAF came up for renewal, which would have meant promotion, but a desk job. With a wish to keep flying, he chose to move on, and takes us through the work he did with Cathay Pacific, where despite a great change from single seat fighters to flying large airliners such as the 747, his Test Pilot experience was a great advantage.
The writing style is easy to read and keeps your attention. With hobbies he had the chance to do, both racing yachts and cars, it might be considered a good example of 'boys toys', but he was clearly a very professional pilot, who loved his job. Any fan of Cold War aircraft will thoroughly enjoy this book I have no doubt, and I am sure it will inspire some youngsters to want to choose flying as a career, whether it is airliners such as Russell's own son chose, or whether it is to fly fast jets for the RAF. Easily recommended for any aviation fan.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.

Robin